Forging His Own Path in Design

By Joey Mazzaferro

Larry Scarpa, FAIA, BDES ’81, M.ARCH ’87, is co-principal of Brooks+Scarpa, a collective of architects, designers and creative thinkers dedicated to enhancing the human experience. Considered one of the premier design firms in architecture, Brooks+Scarpa is headquartered in California with an office in Florida and projects around the globe.

The firm, which he leads with his wife, Angela Brooks, FAIA, BDES ’87, includes architecture, planning, environmental design, materials research, graphic, furniture and interior design services that produce innovative, sustainable iconic buildings and urban environments.

Scarpa said he went to Los Angeles 30 years ago soon after graduating from UF. He joined a small office and became a design principal in the firm. Within a couple of years, he branched out on his own.

“We’re roughly 20 people now and a few years ago, we returned back to Florida,” Scarpa said. “We opened an office in Fort Lauderdale and we’re very busy there.”

The Gator ties are strong throughout the firm as the partner there, Jeff Huber, AIA, BDES ’02, M.ARCH ’04, is also a UF DCP graduate. The University of Florida has had a strong influence on the firm.

“My education at Florida was a real great foundation for me, particularly in undergrad,” Scarpa stated. “Part of the thing which is the most difficult to do as a designer is actually decide what to do. And what we learned at Florida gave us the kind of skills to develop design in a way that kind of moved you forward. I’ve always been very good at making projects happen and a lot of that can be attributed to my education.”

The firm’s approach to design might be a bit different than what people think. Scarpa said people look at their buildings for the image but the firm doesn’t think too much about that. They are focusing more on the experience.

“What we try to do is leave something behind with the user/visitor that they remember, whether there’s a building there or not,” Scarpa said. “The visual aspects are important but it’s really the experience that matters the most.”

Using what he believes is the right approach even though it is different from most is one of Scarpa’s core beliefs, one he advises to new students: stick by what you believe. He tells them to listen with an open mind but to not let anyone dissuade them from doing what they think is right. He advises them to follow their instincts, follow their path and they will be successful.

Larry Scarpa photo provided By CalderOliver

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